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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 16, 2014 4:00am-6:01am EDT

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>> i just wanted to ask, and provocative signal to putin. >> i apologize to all of those i was unable to get to. >> let me go back to the first. it would be a gross misstatement that ever keep our government focused on anything. clearly we have all lot of challenges out there. isil, isis, whatever we call these guys is an incredibly tough problem and clearly deserves a lot of focus. i think of we still have a government that completely understands that we have got to address what russia is doing in eastern europe, and we are working through those issues, an active debate inside of the bill way about how to address. i think that sometimes what we see in the headlines seems to tell us that we are maybe focused on one thing
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at the expense of another. i don't think that is the case. a think our government is completely focused on both of these issues. i see the ongoing work of out to address this and am able to make my input. remind me attorney but the second part of your question. okay. eri. a great in my opinion, it offers us a tool to begin to do all of those things don't need to do to address the three latest will. we will need u.s. forces to be a part of that small rapid reacting part of the nrf. certainly we will not be all of it and have already had several other capable nations stepped up to be a part of that small force. we will need to make investment in training and capability to make sure that we are well set to be a part
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and to lead and be a big part of that rapid reacting peace. the third piece, our presence forward, in some cases i believe it will help us to be a part of conditioning lodgment setting forward with other nato allies those prepossession materials that we think that we needed some of these areas, and it will allow us to enable that. so i have great hopes to be an enabler of exactly what we need to do for that third leg of the stool. i see that very well. back to the actions ours. this has been on the books for years, and it is one that we do every year. we are continuing exercise today. it is a little over a thousand people, 14 nations. the u.s. part is just under 200 people. it is about a police operation, about bringing nations together to be able
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to interact and interrelate. it is being conducted so far west of ukraine it is almost in poland about 22 kilometers from the polish border and 1200 callers to been asked. so the exercise is going forward. no, i do not think it is provocative. his bid on the books. we have been talking about it forever. the continued to move forward and show engagement with the government trying to build a positive way forward. i think this can be a big part of the positive way forward. >> general breedlove, i think our speak on behalf of everyone here. i want to thank governor jon huntsman and jonas hjelm. always welcome to have to supreme allied commanders in the audience. never shy to give me feedback. >> i was waiting for the question to come. i am sure that there would all, as i do, not only saloon what you have done
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today us salute your courageous lead. thank you very much. >> thank you. [applause]ons in new
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york. >> thank you very much. i am pleased to be here. i see a lot of really good friends out there, friends and neighbors naturally. and stephen schlesinger. we have known each other for 30 years or so because we were next door neighbors to 24 riverside drive.
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anyway, it is great to be here with such good friends. richard, thank you for inviting me. i am here to speak to you today about the important subject of homeland security supported by my friend and colleague, the late ted sorensen, i became a member of the council on foreign relations in july 2001. as soon as i joinder learned by attendance of meetings that this was a terrific organization for the receipt of information and the bipartisan exchange of ideas concerning america's foreign-policy and national-security. i am sorry that in recent years i have not been able to visit these much. i have been busy in washington. a little more than two
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months after i joined the council on foreign relations in july 2001 by 44th birthday. i remember that part state far more vividly than any other before or since. it changed my life. it was a tuesday. the weather was beautiful, temperature in the 60's or 70's, no humidity, not a cloud the sky and he did was a perfect weather day. i decided to drive to work that day to midtown manhattan. i looked forward to coming home that evening and celebrate my birthday with my wife and her two children all of that changed at age 46:00 a.m. in an instant that beautiful day turned into one of the single darkest days in american history. like millions of others, there are images and moments
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i remember about that day that will never fade with time. the image of black smoke billowing out of the towers of the world trade center against the backdrop of a crystal clear blue sky is one burned into my memory. with the south tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. it was the one moment in my life when i really could not believe my own-. i kept thinking that building which had been a fixture on the manhattan skyline for almost 30 years was going to emerge from the cloud of dust. i remember thinking by the time i got to my car later that day and drove across the george washington bridge manhattan island had suddenly been transformed into a war zone. out of that tragic day the department of homeland security was formed. my personal commitment to the mission of homeland security was born.
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today vhs is the third largest department of our government with 240,000 employees, 22 components, and a total budget authority of about $60 billion. the department has a broad and diverse set of missions. it is responsible for, among other things, counter-terrorism, the a ministration and enforcement of our immigration laws, cyber security, aviation security, maritime security, border security, the security of land and sea ports, protection against nuclear, chemical, biological threats to the homeland, protection of our national leaders, protection of our critical infrastructure, training of federal law enforcement personnel, coordinating the federal bear in response to natural disasters and emergency preparedness for state and local authority. the 22 agencies or components that make up vhs
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include u.s. customs and border protection which by itself is the largest federal law enforcement agency. u.s. immigration and customs enforcement, u.s. citizenship and immigration services, coast guard, tsa, fema, secret service. counter-terrorism must and will remain the cornerstone of the department of homeland security mission. during my four years as general counsel of the defense department guy was pleased to be a witness to many of our governments counter-terrorism successes, many of the leaders of al qaeda from 2001 are now better captured. in september 2011 -- september 11th 2001 was my first it -- for stay as an american. may 1st 2011, their intelligence committee and special operations forces was my best day as a public
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servants. about 13 years after 9/11 it is still a dangerous world. there is still a terrorist threat to our homeland. today the terrorist threat is different from what it was in 2001. it is more decentralized and complex. not only is there a core al qaeda in afghanistan and pakistan, there is al qaeda in the arabian peninsula which is still active in its efforts to attack the homeland. al qaeda and the islamic marker, how sure bob, our minister front in syria, the newest affiliate, al qaeda in the indian subcontinent. there are groups which are not official affiliate's have al qaeda put share its extremist ideology. the islamic state of iraq and the live on or isil
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previously known as al qaeda in iraq is now vying to be the preeminent terrorist organization on the world stage. at present we have no credible information that isil is planning to attack the homeland of the united states. that is not by any means the end of the story. isil is an extremely dangerous organization. as the elements of those to -- both a terrorist organization and an insurgent army. it kills innocent civilians and has seized large amounts of territory in iraq and syria which it can utilize for safe haven, training, command-and-control and from which it can launch attack. it engages in 30 to 40 attacks per month, has an estimated 10,000 fighters and takes in as much as a million dollars a day from illicit or else map -- oil
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sales, smuggling, and ransom payments. it's public messaging and social media is as slick and effective as any ever seen from a terrorist organization. rap
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>> 13 years of war since 9/11. the decision by the president to take on a new fight against this enemy was not an easy one. but the president recognizes the serious threat posed by isil. as the president will explain tonight, the united states is resolute in our effort to degrade and ultimately destroyer isil as part of a broad, international coalition, including nato allies and partners in the region, reflecting the global communities condemnation of isil and its tactics. as part of this, we are pleased to see the formation of the new government in iraq. with whom we intend to work closely. we look forward to this new government addressing the rights and concerns of all of iraq's diverse communities, and its leaders from across the
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political spectrum, coming together to take unitedstance against -- unite it stance against isil. from a homeland security perspective here's what we are doing. first, to address the threats generally emanating from terrorist groups overseas, we have in recent weeks enhanced aviation security. in early july, i directed enhancing screening at 18 overseas airports witch direct flights to the united states. several weeks later wade ed six more airports to that list. two weeks ago we added another airport, an additional screening of carry-on luggage. the united kingdom and other countries that followed with similar enhancements to their aviation security, we continually evaluate whether more is necessary without unnecessarily burdening the traveling public. longer term, we are pursuing
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pre-clearance at overseas airports with flights to the united states. this means inspection by a u.s. customs officer, and enhanced aviation security before a passenger gets on the plane to the united states. we now have pre-clearance at airports in dublin, shannon, the uae, canada, and the caribbean. are rather as a homeland security imperative to build more. to use a football metaphor, i'd much rather defend our end zone from the 50-yard line from the one yard line. i want to take every opportunity we have to expand homeland security beyond our borders. second, the department of homeland security, the fbi, and the intelligence community are making enhances and concerted efforts to track syrian foreign tigers who come from or seek to enter this country. the reality is that there are more than 12,000 foreign tigers that have traveled to sera over
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the -- to syria over the last three years, including over a thousand europeans. we estimate that more than 100 americans have traveled or attempted to travel to syria to join the fight there one way or another. we are concerned that not only may these foreign fighters join isil or other extremist groups in syria, they may also be recruited by extremist groups to leave syria and conduct external attacks. the fbi has arrested a number of individuals who have tried to travel from the united states to syria to support terrorist activities there. third, we are working with european and other governments to build better information sharing, to track syrian foreign tigers. whenever i get together with mr. european counterparts-this topic is almost always item one on the agenda. the importance of this issue is
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also reflect by the fact that it will be a singular topic of discussion at a u.n. security council summit that the president will chair in two weeks. i'm told in the history of the urn this is only the second time a u.s. president has permanently chaired a security -- personally cared a security are security council summit. we're making enhanced efforts to track those who enter and leave syria and may later seek to travel to the united states from a country for which the united states does not require a visa from its citizens. there are in fact a number of visa waiver program countries that also have large numbers of citizens who are syrian foreign tigers. -- fighters. generally we have strong information sharing relationships with this countries, and with their help we will build this capability. we need to ensure we're doing all we took identify those who by their travel patterns attempt
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to hide their association with terrorist groups. when countries in our visa waiver program may agree to strong surety safeguards women have undertaken a review of these safeguards to review whether they'red a kit. we're saying whether there are additional safeguards immigrant pledded to identify foreign fieger and whether there can be any that can be implemented on an expedite it basis. all 38 nations in the visa waiver program have an interest in this. we're encouraging more countries to join the united states inialing tools like advance passenger information and passenger name record collection, which will help to identify terrorist travel patterns. fourth, within the u.s. government, fbi director, cia director brennan and i, and others in law enforcement and the intelligence community, are enhancing our able to share information with each other
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about suspicious individuals. fifth, we are continually on guard against the potential domestic based, home grown terrorist threats threats who me lushing lushing in -- lurking in our society. thin' actor, or lone wolf, those that did not train at a terrorist camp over georgetown in the ranks of an terrorist organization overseas but inspired at home by a group roz social media, literature 0, extremist ideology, we got an example of this type of actor last year at the boston marathon. in many respects, this is the hardest terrorist threat to detect, and the one i worry about the most. to address the domestic lone wolf threat, i've directed that dhs build on our partnership with state and local law enforcement. local police and fire departments are the first responders to any crisis in our home happen the local police-more than the federal
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government, have their finger on the pulse of the commune -- community from which a domestic terrorist may come to address the home-grown terrorist who may be lurking in our midst, we must also emphasize the need for help from the public. if you see something, say something. is more than a slogan. this week, we're sending a private sector advisory, identifying for retail businesses a long list of materials that could be used as explosive precursors, and the types of suspicious behavior that a retailer should look for from someone who buys a lot of these materials. within dhs, we have programs to engage in outreach to communities which themselves are able to reach young men who may turn to violence. i have directed that we step up these programs, and personally i participate in them inch june, met with a syrian american
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community in a chicago suburb. later this month i will meet with somali community in culp columbus, ohio in october the white house will host a summit on domestic and international efforts to address extremism and address the whole life cycle of radicalization to violence poses by the foreign fighter risk. the good news for this country, i believe, is that over the last 13 years, we have vastly improved this nation's ability to detect and disrupted terrorist thoughts over seas before they reach the home lean. here at home, federal law enforcement does an excellent job, time and again, of identifying and investigating, arresting and prosecuting, scores of individuals before they commit terrorist acts. though the bad news is we face real terrorist enemies and real
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terror threats. they nature of homeland security mission is no news is good news. no bombs no crashes no explosions, no natural disasters no deaths, and no destruction. but no news does not and cannot mean complacency. in this is a result of people in our government who prevent bad things you never hear about. in this, we ask for the help and understanding of the american public. we need the help of community organizations in a position to touch those disaffected from society in need of something or someone to believe in, belong to or children to stress that or worship to stress that violence and groups such as isil are not the once. despite its slick public media and self-proclamation to be the islamic state of iraq, isil is
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neither islamic, nor is it a state. contrary to misguided beliefs of some, isil is not defending islam and is not defending innocent muslims. in fact most of the people killed by isil are muslims. isil is a stateless group of depraved criminals, rapists-kidnappers, killers, and terrorists who control territory. there is no religion, including islam, and there is no god, including allah, that would condone isil's violent tactics. we ask the american public to understand in these times the command -- continued need for certain level of homeland security in their daily lives. at airports, government buildings, public places, and large public gatherings. we ask the american public to understand the vital role that our intelligence collection agencies play in keeping the
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homeland safe. i'm a daily consumer of the intelligence product. generated by the cia, nsa and other agencies of our government. i can attest to the great value these products have in our able to detect and guard begins the latest terrorist plot at the earliest stages. for our part, those of us in government need to remember our history. old and recent. or risk repeating it. tomorrow we will remember those killed on september 11th, 2001. we'll honor the police and fire men and civilians who, in extraordinary acts of courage, gave their lives that day. tomorrow and every september 11th thereafter, must also serve as the reminder that if we let our guard down, the homeland security of this nation can be shattered in an instant. for those in government, it is
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important to know another aspect of our history. in the name of national security, our government should not overreact or react out of fear, anger 0, prejudice. our american history, old and recent, is riddled with unfortunate examples of in which our government in the name of national security, has gone too far. long before this nation honored martin luther king, with national holiday and a street named for him in virtually every major city, he was the target of government surveillance and harassment. professor charles hamilton, retired from columbia university, is one of the most respected political scientists in the united states, and a member of this council. in the 1960s he co-authored the book, blackhawks with stokely carmichael and was suspect overred being a dangerous subversive by his own
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government. more recent in reaction to 9/11, our government engage ned enhanced interrogation techniques, contrary to who we are as a great nation. in the name of national security i can build you a perfectly safe city, but it will be a prison. i can build more fences and install more invasive screening devices, ask more intrusive questions, demand more answers and make everybody suspicious of each other. or that will cost us who we are as nation of people, who respect the law, cherish privacy, freedom and fair play, celebrate our diversity, and who are not afraid. in the final analysis, these are the things that constitute our greatest strengths as a nation. thank you all for listening, in [applause]
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thank you, mr. secretary, for that fine speech. we're going to have a brief conversation, after which we're going to open it up to the members here and out in the cities for questions. mr. secretary, just -- i just want to ask you a little bit about the management challenges of your department. something over 100 agencies put together. i think it's probably about 100 congressional commitees oversee you. >> 108. as many subexciteees of congress report to oversee the department of homeland secures. >> still a good idea to put is together and how does one manage this organization -- people talk about banks being too big and complex. how does one manage an organization with so many different line offices business?
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>> guest: first, you have to look at were all these diverse mission sets that come under the banner of homeland security existed before the creation of that department. our 22 components were spread across department of defense, department of agriculture, department of treasury, transportation, and a host of others, supervised by numerous cabinet secretaries. that was consolidated in 2003, and just within my nine months as secretary, i've seen the extraordinary cohesion that can be achieved by having these different components together in one department around one conference table. for example, just this past summer, with the situation we
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had in the rio grande valley sector, with unaccompanied children, that required that i continually bring together our senior officials from immigration, customs enforcement, custom and border appreciation, fema, the coast guard, citizenship and immigration services-all around one conference table, whereas pre2002 they were spread across numerous agencies, depth of justice and others. so it makes in my view, an extraordinary amount of sense to have all that in one cabinet department. i'm responsible for our borders and people crossing our borders, land, sea, and air. so those are the components of dhs. and so i think it makes an incredible amount of sense. is a travel around the world, meet with my counterparts, ministers of interior, many of them have almost exactly the
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same set of missions i do. and it took us until 2002 to put all that together, but there it is. >> in terms of manage; there are 240,000 people. it is for the most part a combination of organizations that many of whom pre-dated the adapt of homeland security where their own culture, their own way of doing business, and i don't believe it's necessary for us to try to supplant the culture and get, say, the secret service to behave like the coast guard or like fema. but there are things we should have in common. i've directed a unity of effort initiative to bring to the department a more strategic focus to our budgetmaking and our acquisitions so we avoid duplications of effort and not just stovepiped where one
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component gives me their budget request and we forward it to omb. we want to bring a focus to that earlier in the process. so it's a balance between centralized management but allowing each organization to have their own culture, their own mission, and a good chief of staff and good senior leaders -- i'm happy that the story doesn't get told enough. when i came in we had no secretary no deputy secretary, we had vacancies in a number of senate confirmed presidential appointments. in the last year, as the senate has confirmed nine of our presidential appointees, nine next last 12 months, there are two waiting senate confirmation. now if we can get that last session of congress before they go off in the mid-terms and two just no -- nominated last week or the week before.
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and once they get through the senate, we're done. we will have filled all the vacancies in the department. >> host: thank you. mr. secretary, you mentioned that after 13 years of war, it is difficult to take on a new fight. until recently the american public, speaking as a broad generalization, had very limited appetite for further military action in the mid-east. should we be preparing the american public for the idea that in radical jihad, we are dealing with something like a chronic disease and something like coping with the former soviet union during the cold war, we were going to have to be prepared for the long indefinite future, to be ready to use military force, and we can't phase in and out of an appetite for that? >> guest: i always resist a
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little bit comparisons and analogy to other situations. isil has shown a certain level of danger that constitutes a threat to our vital interests as a nation, and to americans and to others in a coalition that is being assembled as we speak right now, such that the only responsible thing to do is to take them on before they grow even more dangerous. they've cost the world scores in human lives, innocent people, innocent muslims, and this type of organization, this type of terrorist threat, simply has to be engaged. we can't avoid it. >> host: has there been in the
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change in your viewpoint since you went from our former job at dod to now in terms of appropriate tactics, philosophies? >> guest: that's interesting. when i left the department of defense in 2012, and i was back in private life for a year, and then i came back, rather unexpectedly, to be secretary of homeland security, and that one year off, gives me a unique perspective. i came back a year later. i had not read intelligence reports for a year. get to read "the new york times" but not intelligence reports for a year, and i found it was still a dangerous world, but the danger is evolving in ways i described in my remarks. a different kind and character. it's not the al qaeda of 2001 anymore. it's the more decentralized
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threat, and so i -- it's disappointing, still a dangerous world, still a dangerous world for americans, which is why we have to act. >> host: i'm going to touch on immigration which i know is on people's minds because i'm sure you'll are get questions from the members. let me ask you this question, cyber. it's under your aegis. i'd be interested if you would go into how well prepared the county the government is, the private sector, and perhaps particular emphasis on the power grid, the air, and our financial system. >> guest: because of the interconnectivity of the interit in. critical infrastructure, we have to be -- cybersecurity is one of my principle priorities in
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office. i really want to advance the ball on cyber security. and cyber security involves the security of critical infrastructure because of our reliance on cyber on the internet and the interconnectivity of it's all. i think that through the president's executive order last year, and the cybersecurity framework we set up in february of this year, meant for -- to set forthbest practices in the private sector, we have made real progress on cybersecurity. i'm impressed by the level of sophistication in certain private sector. the financial sector, for example, i'm sure you know, steve, is very sophisticated, very adapt at cyber security. major financial institutions are making great strides. but even the most sophisticated
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bank benefits from information sharing with the department of homeland security and my department's responsible for coordinating the federal government's response to securing the dot-gov world and world. we have the national cybersomething -- it's basically where we conduct our operations to secure the dot-com, dot-gov world. i've been impressed by the speed with which our operation center is in contact with the goldman sachs, citigroups, bank of america, others in the business sector. they have relationships on a first-name basis with the cybersecurity experts in the private sector, and i've been impressed how quickly we get information out, we get information back about cyberattacks. but we have cyber attacks on this nation on a daily basis.
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of a different kind and character from a whole spectrum of actors. and so we have a real problem. and i wrote an op-ed yesterday about cybersecurity legislation. there is bipartisan support right now for cybersecurity legislation. i was pleased the house homeland security committee on a bipartisan basis, led by mike mccall and ben thompson, got a bell through the entire house. there's activity in the senate, homeland security committee, tom carper, tomkoburn, are interested in advancing legislation, the senate intelligence commitee, dianne feinstein, saxby champ bliss, interested in advancing this. so we have opportunity to codify dhs's authority, to codify the private sector's authority in freedom to share information
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with the government. i'm interested in enhancing my hiring capability, to bring in more cybersecurity talent i can steal a. from finance services sector. and so we have a lot of work to do without doubt. information sharing of best practices is one of the keys to that. >> host: your comment on legislation anticipated my next question. at the time of the financial crisis, the federal reserve and the treasury found they did not have all the legislative powers they wished they had, and given the warning we have, it would be tragic if we didn't -- >> guest: that's my plea. there is in my judgment, some legal uncertainty, at least in the minds of some, about my authority to respond to a
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cyberattack in the private sector, and even in the dot-gov world and private sector businesses worry about civil liable they may face if theysive information with the government. so we need he help of congress to provide clarity there. everybody talks about cybersecurity and thed need for legislation. just have to reach agreement on it. we have good leadership and i'm hope neglect quibbling amount of time remaining in -- dwindling amount of time they'll take it on. >> this meeting is on the record. there are invited members of this press here. when you have questions please wait for the mic and speak directly into it, and please stand, state your name and affiliation, and please only a single question, and concise, so as many members as possible can ask their questions.
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for those participating via teleconference, reminder, e-mail your questions to question question art -- now. madam. >> i am a journalist, taking up what you said about concern about home-grown terrorist and terroris in the u.s. choose, you deal with the fact that some budding terrorists can very easily go to some state where there are very few restrictions, none really enforced, get assault weapons, get handguns, walk around in the street with them, walk around even in the airport with them. isn't this a human hole in your protection of people in this country when terrorists, in this country, can get lethal weapons right here and turn them on us?
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>> without directly commenting on various gun control ideas out there, as you know that's obviously a hotly debated subject. i am concerned. put handguns aside for the moment. put assault weapon as i side. i am concerned about how easy it is for somebody to buy in an open fashion, materials, explosives, precursors to explosives, pressure cookers, that can be used to cause mass destruction, mass violence, and we saw an example of that in boston last year. and so we can't, and we shouldn't, prohibit the sale of a pressure cooker. we can sense ties retail businesses to be on guard for
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suspicious behavior by those who buy kind of stuff. and one reason i'm concern about domestic-based acts of mass violence is the ease with which somebody can assemble things that in and of themselves are not dangerous, but put them all together, and them combine that with some of the learning on the internet that various groups put out. and i'm not promoting anything in particular. it combines for a serious concern, and a serious homeland security concern, and so i -- as i mention any remarks decided we need to make as large part of the homeland security mission, countering violent extremism at
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home and outreach to community groups. i mentioned i was with a syrian-american community organization in chicago, and i was impressed by the extent to which the people that i met in that room that day had, i think, a good sense of the pulse of their community there. and so this is something that we have to address, and we see it in multiple forms and fashions repeatedly. with different motives. and it's obviously something we have to address. >> the lady back there. >> mr. secretary, in your definition of syrian foreign tigers, fight -- fighters -- in your definition of the syrian foreign fighters do you include hezbollah, who is fighting by
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the side of the regime in damascus? and in the coalition that you have referred to, will russia and iran be part of this coalition, given particularly their support of bashar al-assad and your fighting isil, his enemy. >> second question first. i refer you to the remark of the president tonight. don't want to get laid of my boss or anybody else's boss. the way we think of syrian foreign fighters, anybody who goes to syria from outside syria to take up the fight. one way or another. as simple as that. maybe a little more nuance to the definition but that's my understanding of it. >> the gentleman behind you. >> farouk, ethan allen, after 9/11 there was a great concern
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that our actions -- i had an opportunity to go with president bush to the mosque in washington. after 13 years, we have -- there's a tremendous amount -- increase terrorism has increased. caliphates have increased. my question is how much of a concern there is that a billion muslims are perceiving these actions a weakening muslims? >> well, we work side-by-side in our cower -- counterterrorism effort with a lot of muslim countries. i spend time in the middle east. and we need to continually stress that, as i said in my
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remarks, isil is not islamic. there's no religion that would condone isil's tactics. i said -- i've said several times that in the fight that we take up against certain groups, if they are able to recruit faster than we can take somebody off the battlefield, we're in a losing battle. and that is a calculus that can tip the wrong way very easily. a lot of it depends on the public perception of what we're doing. and so i believe that right now, we and others in nato our friends in the region, are in a position to mobilize international public opinion, including in the muslim world, about the dangers of isil.
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it is an organization that is dangerous and a threat to the muslim world to innocent muss lips, and i think we're poised to make that case, and we are making that case against isil. much like the coalition that was formed right after 9/11. >> professor collins. former colleague of mine. >> you made a great speech. you showed an admirable concern for the impact on our domestic legal system of national security problems. you have also shown a good awareness of international potential, but could you say something about international law? i wonder, is a read every day about our actions in response to these threats, to what extent is international law an obstacle to
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what extent is it considered irrelevant, to what extent is it a facility for your work? >> good question. i never -- i would never regard law as an obstacle. somebody in their wisdom enacted a law, developed a body of law, in my prior life as general counsel of defense department, when i gave legal signoff to a military operation, i always, almost always, looked at two things, domestic legal authority and international legal authority. and the way i and others in this administration tend to, when i was acting as lawyer in this administration -- the way we tend to view international law and domestic law, we ask the question, is there legal
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authority for something? rather than, there is anything in the law that would stop me? is there legal authority for something? and i have found that international law, almost without exception, is consistent with basic common sense. principles of self-defense, principles of consent, host nation consent, for example, in military operations. pretty much are consistent with common sense. and without getting too deeply into my prior legal life, i know that it there are some who want to see us develop a body of international law around, you know, principles of humanitarian crisis, when there's a
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humanitarian crisis, residing entirely within a particular country, how do we deal with that from an international legal perspective? i think that's something worth looking at. we're carefully considering. but succumb through my anytime national security something of an international legal practitioner, and spent a lot of time with other lawyers and other departments of ministry of defense and so forth, and it's an evolving principle but international law is an enabler and not a obstacle. >> this gentleman there. thank you. >> thank you. innovation international. mr. secretary, i haven't heard
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the word "ebola" spoken. you're responsible nor boreds and all that goes with it. what do you think can be done, will be done, should be done in terms of protecting the country from one guy or two people coming in on an airplane. >> good question. i -- you're correct, i did not refer to ebola in my remarks but definitely refer to ebola in any daily job. part over the day job. i get briefings on it almost on a daily basis, and it is a virus that, as few you know, is growing -- as you know is growing in west africa and the three countries in west africa. there is a certain level of screening that is done of those who are leaving the country, getting on planes at airports there, from the three most affected countries, my
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understanding is there's no direct flights to the united states. you have to go through about three or four different transit points. and what i've asked my staff to look at is whether, in addition to what we're already doing, there's more that we should do and we can do that is reasonable and responsible to screen people for any signs of the disease, of the virus, as they're leaving, so that what you mentioned doesn't happen. i think we need to continually evaluate that, and we are. >> madam, you have been patient. >> thank you for your service. i just want to pick one what you were saying about the life cycle and the recruitment process. to what extent do you feel there's sufficient or -- when you bring up -- this is not islam, it's isil is not islam to
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whom we addressing that? what leadership level? i don't know -- maybe i don't read enough international press -- but i don't hear leadership voices condemn that kind of violence as nonislamic, coming from the islamic states themselves. to what extent someone could -- see you address that -- >> the message from somebody like me is intended principally for the domestic audience. we have people in this country looking for -- two feel disaffected, who are -- who may be tempted by acts of violence to look for something to glamorize, to radiate to, and there have been one or two examples in the media that you all know about of this. and i heard somebody say that
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isil is protecting innocent muslims. it's not protecting innocent muslims. we have an audience in this country that can and should be reached about the dangers of this organization. and i believe that what i can do and what the department can do is outreach to the communes that themselves have the most credibility in this area, to partner with them, to help them within their own communities. >> a followup to the lady's question, other than exhortation, what are we doing -- we know the countries where pay masters to the terrorist's reside. what are we doing to lean on those countries to clamp down on money going to these organizations to proselytize for
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radical jihad, et cetera? >> i guess i refer you to my diplomatic colleagues in the administration. i know that is a continual dialogue, and so i refer to my diplomatic colleagues on that one. >> okay. madam? >> thank you very much. my name is nina and i work in the field of public health, and i have another question of ebola. this is an epidemic that is in three countries, and with every case we identify, we know that there's somewhere between ten and 100 people that person has had contact with. so in addition to the work you're doing on airport screening and who is coming in, tell us about your thinking about the role of your department in actually working in those high-burden countries or ravaging -- epidemics to stem the flow. >> my department itself should
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be focused on the homeland. we have a halve affairs capability -- health affairs capability in the department of home lean -- homeland security. obviously there's cdc, which is heavily engaged in this situation. hhs in general, i know, is very engaged in this, and i hope collaboratively together we have job to do, and there are a number of u.s. government personnel on the continent right now addressing this, and as i mentioned a moment ago, i think we need to continually evaluate the need for screening at last point of departure, at airports before people leave the country. >> thank you.
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stewart,. thank you for your service, difficult and thankless job. you messengered 9/11 and how moving it was and for many it was a turning opinion. president obama commented at this number one national security concern is a nuclear bomb going off in new york city. we know that terrorists would like to have that spectacular impact. my question is regarding hr1 and the container screening and scanning requirements. there is technology being tested by the department to effectively and passively scan 100% of cargo coming into the united states. me question is, how do you feel about that. i know what your testimony has been on the hill. how do you feel about that requirement, and given technology that's being tested, i would no do a pilot program on some of these potential devices that could dramatically protect the homeland? >> i know a certain amount of
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testing has bun done. i'm very familiar with the 100% scanning requirement put into law in 2007. there is -- for those who might not know there, is a law that says that the department shall, shall, scan 100% of the cargo that leaves foreign ports, bound for the united states. now, to be honest, it huge ununfundded mandate. congress said you have to do this but didn't give us the now pay for it, and there is a provision in that law that everybody two years, permits the secretary of homeland security to waive it. i'll tell you what i've said publicly and said privately to those who believe in this very strongly, congressman adler, leader pelosi, congressman
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thompson, senator markey, it's a -- it's a great idea. there are huge logistical challenges to united states -- the united states government, u.s. personnel, now scanning the cargo at foreign ports, at every important port around the globe with stuff bound for the united states, and though i recently waived the require of the law, what i've said is that, as long that's law is on the books, we should at least strive in that direction. we have -- need to have a plan for getting to 100% and should strive in that direction. we should raise that percentage and do the best we can with it. with the resources and the budget resources that we have. and so that's a direction i've told our folks to move in.
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>> let's go to the back. lady in the far back. >> thank you, secretary. claudia torrance. on immigration, can you tell us about your deportations review? we believe dish understand -- ask correct me if i'm wrong -- you made some recommendations to the president on that. can you tell us what recommendations were those, and also, what do you think about president's executive decision to delay executive action? >> the president and i, along with the department of justice, are in continual discussions about the ways in which we can and should fix our broken immigration system, and it is a broken system. that includes a re-evaluation of
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our pry ores for deportations, for -- priorities for deportations. what-under priorities should be, can they be clearer or adjusted? that's part of our overall review. as you know the president has determined that we should wait until after the mid-term elections to announce what we believe we can and should do to fix the system, and he reached that decision because -- this judgment is, my my view, absolutely correct -- this kind of thing should not by introduced in a politically different climate like you have in the runup to an election. there have been examples cited of that in 1994, gun control, the healthcare law, in the runup to an election in a political season, what the presidents are's talk about, and i agree, what we do -- because this is so important -- needs to be done in
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a sustainable way. and doing this in a sustainable way is as important in my judgment, as what we do and what we say we're going to do, and so after the mid-terms we'll have some announcements. aagree with the president it's always preferential to have action by congress, and there are certain things we simply cannot do to fix the system within the confines of existing law. so, legislation is all this preference and there was a very comprehensive piece of legislation, as i'm sure you are you know, passed by the senate last year, supported by the business community, organized labor, if the polls are to be believed, the majority of northwestern public, who support comprehensive immigration reform, who support fixing our broken immigration system, but the house has not acted on it,
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and we have a broken system. and so we're going to do what we can to fix the broken immigration system. and we want to do that in a sustainable way. >> mr. secretary, thank you very much for your remarks and your great answers to questions. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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